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The Amber Room

Mighty_Emperor

Gone But Not Forgotten
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More on the Amber Room

[Note: The first two posts are split off from the Buried Spitfires thread beause of naitaka's fine idea (which I've moved up to the top):

The Amber Room of Peter the Great has been mentioned briefly in threads about Anastasia and Buried Spitfires, but perhaps it deserves its own thread.

so on with the new thread:]

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dead flag said:
That would be The Amber Room - unsurprisingly, it was a room lined with panels of amber.
I think this covers the background, but i've no idea if anything turned up subsequently. I thought it had, but can't find any supporting references.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_143000/143364.stm

Mysteries of the Amber Room

Richard Nalley, 03.29.04


It was one of Russia's masterpieces of artistry until it vanished with the Nazi retreat of 1945. Now a magnificent replica has been created to rival the original.

Stepping inside the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace museum outside St. Petersburg is like slipping into a fairy tale--the story of Aladdin's cave, maybe. Soaring walls bloom with polished shards of amber--bloodred, honey-blond, milky-gold--inset with jeweled mosaics and gilded trim. The Amber Room was opened with an emotional ceremony, and major press across Europe, last May. But as with many fairy tales, especially Russian ones, there is a dark side to the Amber Room too, a shadow of legend and open-ended mystery.

Standing in its presence, a fragile December snowfall floating past the Catherine Palace's gilded windows, I wonder what improbable passions drove the creation of this monumental jewel box, the work of 25 years of genius and frustration, of 70 artisans and scholars reinventing lost crafts and techniques. To put it mildly, we are unlikely ever to see anything like it attempted again.

But of course, it has been done once before. When all is said and done, this ravishing Amber Room is only the reproduction of a fabled original. And no one who knows the story is likely to forget it anytime soon.

The original Amber Room that stood in this place was one of the great masterpieces of the 18th century. Somewhere along the line--no one at the Catherine Palace museum now seems quite sure when--it acquired the immodest nickname "the Eighth Wonder of the World," still to be found in articles and guidebooks today. That, however, is more than can be said for the first Amber Room itself, which disappeared during the chaotic final months of World War II and can't be found at all.

As ARTnews put it, "The mystery surrounding its fate is to the Russians what UFOs and the Bermuda Triangle are in the West." And not just to Russians. The mystery has sunk its hooks into an international mélange of politicians, filmmakers, ex-Nazis, treasure divers, art historians and freelance conspiracy paranoids. The Amber Room files of the Stasi, the former East German secret police, run to some 180,000 pages, which apparently someone has counted. Internet sites raise virtual eyebrows over the supposed curse that has caused the suspicious deaths of several Amber Room hunters; on Amberroom.org, Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein, founder of the Amber Room Club (which included French mystery writer Georges Simenon), pledges million to its finder. There are at least four suspense novels in English on the topic, all called The Amber Room. The missing panels have even played a role in international relations. Russian president Boris Yeltsin lobbed a diplomatic grenade during a 1991 state visit to Germany by proclaiming that he knew where the Germans had hidden the Amber Room and he jolly well wanted it back.

The mystery began a generation ago amid an orgy of art theft, as the Nazis systematically stripped Russia of tens upon thousands of paintings, jewels, icons and other treasures. In the words of one commentator, "It was not only looting on the largest scale the world had ever seen, it was an attempt to destroy a whole culture." But the Amber Room was not just another trophy in the catalog; it was a centerpiece of the plan.

On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler opened Operation Barbarossa, launching three million German soldiers across the borders of the Soviet Union under swarming clouds of air cover. By September 8 the Wehrmacht's Army Group North had sprinted around a last line of defenders and closed the city then known as Leningrad in a death grip.

As the shells began to fall in suburban Pushkin, officials of the village's sprawling Catherine Palace museum enlisted every able-bodied woman and child in a frantic effort to pack up hundreds of Czarist-era artifacts for removal to the city or across the Ural Mountains. The bitterness of their situation was compounded by the fact that the most famous of all Russian art treasures was entrusted to their care--and they could not save it.

The Amber Room was the third of the chambers along the Catherine Palace's majestic Golden Corridor. A gift to Peter the Great in 1716--celebrating peace between Russia and Prussia, as fate would have it--the Amber Room was said to have nearly bankrupted its giver, the Prussian King Frederick William I. Installed in the summer palace in Pushkin (then and now called Tsarskoye Selo, or "Czar's Village"), the Amber Room served as a private meditation chamber for Czarina Elizabeth, a gathering room for Catherine the Great's intimate circle, a prize cabinet for amber connoisseur Alexander II. It was said to glow from within, to radiate a mystical energy. It was arguably the most famous room in Europe east of Versailles. And for that very reason, in September of 1941, the Amber Room was doomed.

To this day, no one is quite sure why. Was the museum staff too late, too concerned with its fragility or simply too wary to move it? (Who, after all, wanted to tell Comrade Stalin he'd dismantled the Amber Room?) Whatever the reason, curator Anatoly Kuchumov left the priceless panels in place, thinly disguised under sheaths of painted paper, gauze and cotton. But the Nazis were nothing if not efficient in their rapacity. For certain well-briefed troops on the scene, the Amber Room was as obvious as a beacon.

...........

http://www.forbes.com/execpicks/fyi/2004/0329/048.html

There are 4 more pages to that report.

Emps
 
And the Garudian magazine today has a big article on it - its available online as a two parter:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1220878,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1221229,00.html

And promotes this book out next month (or out now in the States):

The Amber Room: The True Story of the World's Greatest Lost Art Treasure
Adrian Levy, Catherine Scott-Clark

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802714242/
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802714242/

Emps
 
The Amber Room of Peter the Great has been mentioned briefly in threads about Anastasia and Buried Spitfires, but perhaps it deserves its own thread.

Mystery of Russia's Amber Room may be solved

It's one of the greatest mysteries of the art world, and it may have been solved.

The Amber Room inside Catherine Palace, near St. Petersburg, was an exquisite example of Prussian craftsmanship. But the wall panels were spirited off during the Second World War, and later vanished. Now two authors claim to have solved the mystery of what become of them.

The Amber Room consisted of 12 hand-cut panels, covered with polished shards of amber -- some blood red, others honey-blond, milky-gold, all inset with jeweled mosaics and gildedThe room was given as a gift by Prussian King Friedrich 1 to Russian Tsar Peter the Great in 1717.

When the Nazi army was approaching Catherine Palace in 1941, many of the treasures were moved to Siberia, but the Amber Room was considered too fragile and left behind. The Nazis managed to put the panels in crates and ship the masterpiece to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad), where it hung in the Konigsberg Castle. As the war was ending, the Soviet Red Army took Konigsberg and the panels vanished.

For six decades, reports suggested the Amber Room had been buried by the Germans. But where? Hundreds of treasure hunters combed through bunkers, salt mines, and castles. Some of the most prominent seekers of the treasure wound up losing their fortunes and met violent ends. But no one found “the eighth wonder of the world,” as it had been known.

Now, a book called The Amber Room: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasure opens a new chapter. Its authors, British investigative reporters Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, claim to have solved the mystery using archival material from St. Petersburg and Germany.

“We discovered that the Amber Room had been destroyed in the closing months of the Second World War, and it had been destroyed by the Soviet Army,” says Levy. They say that in a careless accident, soldiers set fire to the Konigsberg Castle when they were taking the city, not realizing their masterpiece was in crates in one of the halls.

What happened next was something out of a Cold War spy novel. According to the authors, the Soviet government, realizing the panels had been destroyed, manufactured and perpetuated the myth that the panels were hidden, to avoid showing the Red Army as wanton vandals, according to the book. Thus, the chase for a holy grail that could not be found.

“All of the evidence that these people follow in the books that were published during East German times and Soviet times were actually acts of disinformation from the KGB and the East German Stasi” says Scott-Clark.

“The controversial story, the unforgivable story that the Russian Army themselves were responsible was not a truth that could be allowed out at the height of the Cold War.”

The thesis has not been warmly received in Russia. The Amber Room has come to represent the vast loss the country endured during the war, both in terms of human lives and plundered art. The thought that the Russians could somehow be to blame is considered blasphemy.

“I think we must try to destroy the Amber Room, but the other point we must remember is who is the victim and who is the aggressor in the Second World War, and this is very important, too,” says former culture minister Mikhail Shvydkoi.

In an attempt to get beyond the past, Russian and German artisans have painstakingly recreated the Amber Room, based on fuzzy black and white photographs taken as the Nazis were about to conquer the Catherine Palace.

The project, which took 25 years, was completed in the spring of last year. And, although it can't replace the original, it is viewed by many in Russia as a big step towards reconciliation, although issues of missing and plundered art on both sides remain.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1091802704878_87211904/?hub=CTVNewsAt11
 
Thought everyone might like a pic of the original. Unfortunatly, it's B/W.
 
This has always intrigued me - I'd be really disappointed if it had been destroyed :(

Does anybody know anything about the two authors? I'll do a quick google in a minute, but if anybody knows how respected they are straight off that'd be cool.

Fingers crossed FT do a review of the book shortly :D
 
I was in a second hand bookshop the other day and found this book.

The Amber Room - the sequel to Florian's Gate.
T. Davis Bunn
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 1-5661-285-0
 
Stolen Nazi gold may be in German cavern
Last Updated: 7:45am GMT 20/02/2008

Treasure hunters claim they have may have found a haul of looted Nazi gold said to be part of a Russian collection that was dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world" before it was stolen.

The resting place of the Amber Room treasures was reportedly made at the weekend near the German village of Deutschneudorf. Tests showed a man-made cavern 20 metres below ground that contained a large amount of precious metals.

The "Amber Room" was an 18th century chamber inside the Catherine Palace in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, which was made out of amber panels backed by gold leaf.

It was looted in 1941 during the Nazi invasion and taken to Königsburg, now Kaliningrad, where it was lost in 1945 following Allied bombing.

Heinz-Peter Haustein, who is digging at the site near Deutschneudorf, said the cavern had not yet been reached but tests showed what was inside was "definitely" precious metals.

"It's gold, maybe silver. We expect it to be either gold from the Amber Room or gold that would give us clues to another hiding place."

The recovery of what is really inside the cavern is not expected to be complete for weeks, as explosives experts and engineers are being brought in to check for booby traps. The site has been under guard since the weekend.

Mr Haustein has been searching for the Amber Room treasure for years, ploughing thousands of pounds of his own money into the hunt.

He arrived in Deutschneudorf on a tip off from a German whose late father, a signaller in the Luftwaffe, had hoarded documents containing the co-ordinates to and locations where the Nazis supposedly hid gold and diamonds at the end of the war.

One of those sets of co-ordinates was the "exact" location of the dig, Mr Haustein said.

The documents also contained warnings of booby traps.

Various theories have circulated about the location of the Amber Room treasure.

Some historians say it was destroyed in Könisgburg but there is speculation that it was loaded onto a submarine which was sunk in the Baltic Sea by the Russians.

While there is little firm evidence of the cavern in Deutschneudorf being its final resting place, the village has seen an influx of treasure hunters in the last few days.

The Amber Room was recreated in St Petersburg in 2003.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... old120.xml

As it happens, it's only a few weeks since I read a thriller where part of the plot centred on the Amber room.... Can't remember the title, though! (It was set in New York, mostly)
 
Wouldnt burning amber produce a horrid and distinctive stink?
 
There's also a theory that the room was dismantled and loaded aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff...the German refugee ship that was torpedoed in the Baltic in January 1945 sinking with about 9000 lost. It's the largest loss of life at sea in history.
 
A pensioner has started digging in Germany’s western Ruhr region for the Amber Room, a priceless work of art looted by Nazis from the Soviet Union during World War Two and missing for 70 years, but says he needs a new drill to help him.

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Amber Room was an ornate chamber made of amber panels given to Czar Peter the Great by Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm I in 1716. German troops stole the treasure chamber from a palace near St Petersburg in 1941 and took it to Koenigsberg, now the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, before it disappeared. ...

http://www.irishexaminer.com/world/...-public-to-dig-deep-for-nazi-loot-316117.html
 
Amateur Sleuths Claim To Have Found Gold-Packed Nazi Amber Room

Before disappearing at the end of WWII, the Amber Room had belonged to kings and dictators and had even been labeled as the eighth wonder of the world.

Now, 72 years later, three amateur sleuths, homeopath Leonhard Blume, 73, scientist Günter Eckardt, 67, and georadar specialist Peter Lohr, 71, believe they have found the lost treasure, reports the Daily Mail.

They believe this famed room currently resides in Prince’s Cave in the Hartenstein hills near Dresden.


Full story: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/amber-room

Why don't people make announcements after they actually find things?
 
Why don't people make announcements after they actually find things?

I've always thought that! If nothing comes of it you just serve to make yourself look silly.
I presume they've run out of money and are after some sponsorship.
 
Thought everyone might like a pic of the original. Unfortunatly, it's B/W.

Here's a photo cited as being from 1917 ...

Andrey_Zeest_-_Amber_Room_2_(autochrome).jpg


SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Room#/media/File:Andrey_Zeest_-_Amber_Room_2_(autochrome).jpg
 
The recent location of a sunken Nazi ship is raising hopes the resting place of the long missing Amber Room remains has been found.
Nazi shipwreck may solve 75-year-old Amber Room mystery, divers say

Polish divers said Thursday they have located a Nazi shipwreck from World War II that may help solve a 75-year-old mystery -- the location of the fabled Russian Amber Room.

The Nazis raided the Amber Room in 1941 near St. Petersburg, which was part of the Catherine Palace for three centuries. ...

The amber and gold artifacts taken from the room were last seen in the Russian Baltic port city of Kaliningrad four years later. At the time, it was called Koenigsberg and considered part of Germany.

The German steamship Karlsruhe left the city in 1945 with a heavy load of cargo, but never arrived at its destination. It was sunk by Soviet warplanes near the coast of Poland. ...

Divers from the Baltictech Group now believe they have found the Karlsruhe wreckage, and possibly the legendary Russian room.

"It was in Koenigsberg that the Amber Room was seen for the last time," Baltictech diver Tomasz Stachura said. "From there, the Karlsruhe left on its last voyage with a large cargo."

Tomasz Zwara, another member of the dive team, said much of the historical data suggests the Nazi ship left with the stolen treasures from the Amber Room. ...

"The history and available documentation show that the Karlsruhe was leaving the port in a great hurry and with a large load," he said. "All this put together stimulates the imagination.

"Finding the German steamer and the crates with contents as yet unknown resting on the bottom of the Baltic Sea may be significant for the whole story."

It wasn't initially known when divers might further explore the shipwreck site. The Russian government said in 2008 they would demand the return of the Amber Room if it is eventually found. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-...-Amber-Room-mystery-divers-say/3941601574760/

Edit:
My bad ... The ship believed found has been cited as the Karlsruhe - a German Navy cruiser - rather than a transport vessel. However, the Karlsruhe - class cruiser named Karlsruhe was sunk off the Norwegian coast in 1940 rather than in the Baltic in 1945. This English-language Polish news article (a cited source for the UPI article) confuses the class paradigm ship with what's obviously another ship of that named class.

https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7789/Artykul/2592699,Nazi-warship-found-off-Polish-coast-sparking-hopes of treasure

Edit Again ...
More confusion ... My original explanation above doesn't hold up, because all wrecks of Karlsruhe class cruisers are accounted for elsewhere. I can't identify the German ship to which this news refers. It may well be a transport or troop ship, but I can't locate mention of any other German shipping losses named Karlsruhe. ??? ...
 
Last edited:
The recent location of a sunken Nazi ship is raising hopes the resting place of the long missing Amber Room remains has been found.


FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-...-Amber-Room-mystery-divers-say/3941601574760/

Edit:
My bad ... The ship believed found has been cited as the Karlsruhe - a German Navy cruiser - rather than a transport vessel. However, the Karlsruhe - class cruiser named Karlsruhe was sunk off the Norwegian coast in 1940 rather than in the Baltic in 1945. This English-language Polish news article (a cited source for the UPI article) confuses the class paradigm ship with what's obviously another ship of that named class.

https://www.polskieradio.pl/395/7789/Artykul/2592699,Nazi-warship-found-off-Polish-coast-sparking-hopes of treasure

Edit Again ...
More confusion ... My original explanation above doesn't hold up, because all wrecks of Karlsruhe class cruisers are accounted for elsewhere. I can't identify the German ship to which this news refers. It may well be a transport or troop ship, but I can't locate mention of any other German shipping losses named Karlsruhe. ??? ...

More than 160 merchant vessels were lost during the ghastliness that was Operation Hannibal. Even with the Hitler regime’s - er, confused sense of priorities - I find it hard to believe, however, that priceless storage space would have been squandered on the Amber Room, when hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable soldiers and terrified civilians, plus tons of military equipment, could have been saved.

maximus otter
 
My mother was born near Königsberg and had to flee with her younger siblings from the Russian advance in 1945 (luckily she made it on a ferry other than the Wilhelm Gustloff). She was of the firm opinion that the Amber Room had burned - amber burns well - however she was only 14 so wasn't in the best position to know for sure. Maybe it does still exist - after all, the hope was raised with Boris Yeltsin and glasnost in 1994 that the treasures of Troy were still intact despite previous Soviet insistence that they didn't have them.
 
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